Butternut squash mon amour. I started appreciating pumpkin and butternut squash quite late into my twenties, but since my father grows these vegetables in his garden I now cannot wait for the arrival of the cold season in order to taste sweet and savoury dishes cooked with this versatile ingredient. Its natural sweetness makes it an excellent ingredient for cakes and muffins so why not do a little experiment and combine it with one of my favourite ingredients ever? And here it is…the omnipresent liquorice! Needless to say the pairing is superb, these muffin are soft and sweet (but not too much). You can’t get any better than this! Continue reading / Continua a leggere…
Cantucci(or biscotti, as they are called in the States and UK), can’t tell you how many of those I ate when I lived in Tuscany. Actually it was one of my favourite dessert when I went at the restaurant. A nice glass of Vin Santo, the relaxed dipping of the cantucci in the golden boozy liquid. The most perfect way to end a dinner. Before Christmas I was unable to bake panettone so I indulged with backing plenty of cantucci and pandolce (a Genoese version of panettone) that I gave as a gift to family and friends. Searching for the best recipes I came across this one which is just perfect. I found it on a very reliable blog which I already known for years, Anice e Cannella. The only two changes I made have been replacing orange zest with lemon zest, which I much more prefer, and not brushing the cantucci with the egg (more out of laziness than anything else). A gift which my guinea pigs welcomed and appreciated very much. You can store them in nice tin boxes and bring them as a gift to friends who invite you over for dinner, maybe with a good bottle of Vin Santo!
A recipe is a stratification, sweet or salty, bitter, spicy or sweet and sour, of the manifestations of one’s love. I do firmly believe in this statement. May it be a gesture of affection, a manifestation of esteem and friendship, or love expressed as an overwhelming passion if you proceed to remove layers of flavours and gestures to distill its essence what you will obtain is one of the deepest and most sincere of all human feelings. A thought waiting to take shape, the choice of ingredients and the process of turning them into something familiar, desired, which has the power of warming the heart, or an unusual pairing of flavours, a surprise, love at first sight. The long wait, that feeling so similar to the eager stare at the window when waiting for a lover who has been away for a long time. What will be next? A perfectly risen cake, eyes bursting with desire or a collapsed soufflé and a quick peek on the cheek, a glacial politeness falling heavy like a gravestone on a long time exhausted relationship? Food speaks, or allows us to speak to others when words fail or are simply useless. I have seen more manifestations of love on a rich and well prepared table that in readymade Valentine gifts and in badly chosen birthday gifts.
What remains of the cake…what to do with it? Sometimes, even though not very often, a bit of cake may remain uneaten, waiting to be finished and eventually ends drying up. Or in the worst cases, as it happened to me with Antinea’s birthday cake, a part of a layered cake might break effectively becoming unusable. And what about the tops, cut to level perfectly the cake layers? Too much cake to eat, at least for me! I then asked myself what I could do with those poor cake crumbles, but also with the double Gruyère cream I had bought in excess (rather than running out an ingredient I have a tendency of buying too much) and the ridiculous amount of eggs I was given by my aunt, who has now taken the habit of delivering about a dozen every week…high cholesterol anyone? Adverse and hostile as I am to cake pops, an option which seems amongst the most popular when it’s up to use leftover, I thought of using the leftovers to flavour a batch of muffins, a sweet recipe which has been missing for quite a while in my column for the Maroggia’s Mill. In fact my last sweet muffins recipe for Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook has been the one for Beetroot, Orange and White Chocolate Muffins.
A couple of months ago I was interviewed by a young local journalist, Ivan Campari, for a series of articles he is publishing on the newspaper LaRegione featuring young people from the Mendrisiotto area. For this I have to thank my friend Alan Alpenfelt, the mind behind the independent Radio Gwen and the acting company V XX Zweetzwho was interviewed too and gave my name amongst others. To greet both the photographer and the journalist I decided to bake a batch of biscuits, which proved providential as the only good picture of me is one I am transferring them from the baking tray to the rack! I am such a terrible photography subject as I always feel very embarrassed and pull faces and eventually end up throw evil glances at the camera.
Antinea is a special person. We’ve known each other for little over a year but it is as if it were a life time that we have been friends. It was a mutual friend who introduced her to me. With the impending 35th birthday I thought it would be good for me to start some kind of physical activity to keep fit. Amongst the various options the most popular for women in their thirties seemed to be pilates and talking to Marko it came out that her friend Antinea is pilates instructor. There was a nice vibe from the start and despite my stiffness and the struggle to assimilate her teachings I decided to trust her, committing to exercising and trying to overcome my limits. And so it was. I’m sure that without her there would have been no “Cuochi d’artificio”and I am convinced that pilates has greatly contributed to my physical and psychological well-being, giving me not only a new body but also a new mindset. Perhaps at my age I have finally reached a state of equilibrium and for that I must thank Antinea too.
Today for Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook I want to present you with a very practical and entertaining recipe, as well as delicious of course! Bread in a can is the perfect example of how man can use anything as a cooking tool. Really, there is no point in owning multiple moulds and bread tins when you can re-use tin cans. Besides the result is so nice and the rounded slices of bread are perfect for making appetizers!
Breakfast, you already know how much I love this moment of the day and I won’t go on stressing how important it is for me to start the day with a rich meal. I have already experimented with a bread recipe using Maroggia’s Mill pasta and pizza flour (which is a mixture of wheat flour and very finely ground semolina flour) and I was pleasantly surprised. The result was very good, with an aromatic flavour and a good texture regarding the crumb.
Polenta. For centuries it has been the staple of our grandparents and great-grandparents diet, accompanied by meat, cheese, or more commonly by milk (even though I’m aware it is a quite childish on it’s my favourite combination). Corn is a tenacious plant with a very good yield, two features which make of this plant the most commonly cultivated and the staple of many peoples diet all around the world. It can also be toasted and reduced to a fine powder to produce farina bona, a special flour which is typical of the Valle Onsernone, a Valley in Ticino. Corn flour can be used in many different ways, as coating meat or bread sticks instead of using breadcrumbs, and can also be used in sweet preparations such as cakes (like amor polenta) and biscuits.Continue reading / Continua a leggere…
Carnival could be easily renamed “Feast of fried stuff”. The most common recipes in Italy and Ticino are chiacchiere, frappe, tortelli and frittelle. Needless to say frying makes everything better, crisp and irresistible! A quick dusting with icing sugar and tortelli are ready to taste, hot and straight out of their brown paper cone, while parading between bright coloured masks and multicoloured confetti. Each region has its own specialties, and it is not hard to confuse them between one another. And what if tortelli believed themselves to be chiacchiere? Continue reading / Continua a leggere…